|Publication number||US7467134 B2|
|Application number||US 11/387,455|
|Publication date||Dec 16, 2008|
|Filing date||Mar 23, 2006|
|Priority date||Jan 5, 2000|
|Also published as||CA2396766A1, CA2396766C, EP1402404A2, US7082436, US7912872, US20060248089, US20090183097, WO2001050351A2, WO2001050351A3, WO2001050351A9|
|Publication number||11387455, 387455, US 7467134 B2, US 7467134B2, US-B2-7467134, US7467134 B2, US7467134B2|
|Inventors||Edward L. Bayiates|
|Original Assignee||Nugenesis Technologies Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (2), Referenced by (9), Classifications (13), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/478,156 filed Jan. 5, 2000 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,082,436, which is incorporated by reference herein.
This invention relates to storing the visual form of data. Computer programs generally maintain data in a variety of formats. There usually is one format that is unique, and typically proprietary, to each computer program in which raw data is stored persistently. This format usually is designed to reduce the amount of information actually stored and, in some cases, to restrict the ability of a third party to access the data. Data in this format generally is created by a “save” function of the computer program. The save function formats the raw data and stores the formatted raw data in yet another format, called a “file,” that is defined by the operating system for which the computer program is designed. Data that is being processed by a computer program is stored in another format, also typically proprietary, called a “data structure,” which generally is stored in volatile or working memory during execution of the computer program. A data structure usually is designed to permit the data to be processed efficiently by the computer program, while minimizing the amount of memory needed to represent the data.
With many computer programs, the most useful form of the data from the perspective of the user is its visual form, e.g., what is displayed on a computer display or what is printed. However, this form of the data often is not captured into permanent or persistent storage, unless it is printed and the printed form is electronically scanned. In particular, the file format used by a computer program often does not maintain data in a visual form for several reasons. The visual form of the data generally requires more information to be represented and can be reconstructed from raw data that requires less information to be represented. Therefore storing the visual form of the data generally is considered unnecessary.
Part of the visual form of data produced by a computer program is generated, for example, from environmental data (such as the date and time) or user selected data that is being processed, and is not recoverable from the file format, but only from the data structures of the computer program. Although some data structures represent the visual form of the data, often there is no mechanism to retain the visual form of the data other than by printing. Some operating systems permit displayed data to be copied from one computer program to another using a “cut-and-paste” operation. But this operation generally requires the other computer program to be in operation on the same machine. Some computer programs also do not have these operations available to the user. For some computer programs, the printed form of the data, not the displayed data, is most useful and this operation does not provide access to the printed data.
Even if the visual form of data from a computer program is stored, as new versions of the computer program are used, or if the computer program is no longer available, access to that data is impeded. Also, another computer program still might not be able to access the data if the data is stored in a proprietary format.
This lack of access to the visual form of the data from a computer program creates a variety of problems when this form of the data is desired for creating compound documents from multiple sources of data, particularly if the data is created, used and shared over a period of time by multiple different users with multiple different computer programs that are dispersed geographically. As a particular example, in the pharmaceutical industry, data may be acquired from many laboratory instruments in geographically dispersed laboratories over a significant period of time, and then may be combined to produce reports, for example, for regulatory compliance. The inability to centrally access an electronic visual form of the data from these instruments adds a significant cost to regulatory compliance.
In one aspect, the invention features receiving data representing a visual form of data including content data and format data indicating the manner in which the content data is to be visually represented; identifying at least some of the content data in accordance with a template; and storing the identified content data.
Embodiments of this aspect of the invention may include one or more of the following features.
The data representing the visual form of data may be normalized in accordance with a displayed form of the visual form of data. The visual form of data may be characterized by a plurality of dimensions characterized by at least two coordinate systems where normalizing the data representing the visual form of data includes converting values expressed in the two coordinate systems into a common coordinate system. The common coordinate system may be the coordinate system of a displayed form of the visual form of data.
The template includes at least one extraction instruction for identifying at least some of the content data from the received data, and the extraction instruction includes information indicating location of at least some of the content data based on the common coordinate system. The data representing the visual form of data includes data in a format required by an operating system layer for outputting the visual form of data by a printer. The operating system layer may be Windows operating system and the data representing the visual form of data may be a Windows metafile.
The template includes at least one extraction instruction for identifying at least some of the content data from the received data. The visual form of data may be characterized by a plurality of dimensions characterized by a coordinate system and the extraction instruction may include information indicating location of the desired data based on the coordinate system. The visual form of data may be characterized by a plurality of dimensions and the extraction instruction may include information with respect to location of a reference marker and a direction in one of the plurality of dimensions where identifying at least some of the content data includes searching in the direction for identifying at least some of the content data in the direction.
A sample visual form of data may be displayed. Data may be received from a user indicating the location of data selected by the user in the displayed sample visual form of data, and the extraction instruction may be formed based on location data identifying the location of the data selected by the user.
The extraction instruction may stored in association with data representing the sample visual form of data.
The received data further may represent a plurality of visual forms of data where storing the identified content data further includes storing the identified content data in association with data representing a corresponding one of a plurality of visual forms of data.
In another general aspect, the invention features a graphical user interface including a region for displaying a sample visual form of data, a region enabling a user to input location data identifying a location of data selected by the user, and a region causing a computer program to form an extraction instruction using the location data identifying the location of the data selected by the user.
In another general aspect, the invention features receiving data representing a visual form of data including content data and format data indicating the manner in which the content data may be to be visually represented; identifying at least some of the content data in accordance with a template; and initiating performance of an action based on results of the identifying of at least some of the content data.
In yet another general aspect, the invention features a computer implemented technique of receiving information defining a parsing criterion including displaying a graphical user interface for displaying a multi-dimensional document containing multiple units of information; and receiving first information from a user identifying a location within the displayed document, and second information specifying a desired unit of information based on a location of the desired unit of information relative to the identified location, where the information defining the parsing criterion includes the first and second information.
Embodiments of this aspect of the invention may include one or more of the following features.
A plurality of documents can be parsed to identify units of information based on the parsing criterion. The identified units of information may be stored on a computer readable medium. The document may be parsed based on the parsing criterion to identify the desired unit of information. The identified information may be processed to arrive at new information. Information identifying at least one user-definable action to be performed on the identified information may be received.
In yet another aspect, the invention features a computer implemented technique of receiving information defining a parsing criterion including displaying a graphical user interface for displaying a multi-dimensional document containing multiple units of information; and receiving first information from a user identifying a visual marker within the displayed document, and second information defining a desired unit of information within the document by specifying a relative position of the unit of information with respect to the marker, where the information defining the parsing criterion includes the first and second information.
In yet another aspect, the invention features a computer implemented technique of receiving information defining a parsing criterion including displaying a graphical user interface for displaying a multi-dimensional document containing multiple units of information displayed in a multi-dimensional space; and receiving first information a user identifying a region within the displayed document, and second information defining a desired unit of information within the document by specifying a relative position of the unit of information with respect to the region, where the information defining the parsing criterion includes the first and second information. In some embodiments, the second information may indicate that the desired unit of information overlaps with the identified region or that the desired unit of information may be contained within the identified region.
In yet another aspect, the invention features displaying a graphical user interface for displaying a multi-dimensional document containing multiple units of information displayed in a multi-dimensional space; and receiving first information from a user defining a desired unit of information within the document by specifying a relative position of the unit of information and second information identifying an action to be executed depending on the existence or non-existence of the unit of information within the document.
In another aspect, the invention features displaying a graphical user interface for displaying a multi-dimensional document containing multiple units of information displayed in a multi-dimensional space; receiving first information from a user defining a desired unit of information within the document by specifying a relative position of the unit of information and second information identifying an action to be executed depending on the existence or non-existence of the unit of information within a selected region of the document.
All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. In case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control. In addition, the methods, and examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting.
Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description, and from the claims.
Applications 12 can output the reports over network 14 to database manager 18 as described in patent application U.S. Ser. No. 09/213,019, filed Dec. 16, 1998 (“'019 application”), for example, by making function calls to the operating systems of computers 12A. The function calls cause the operating systems to create data files (for example, Windows metafiles) representing the visual forms of the data (that is, the reports). Such data file includes at least two types of data: content data which is the data to be represented visually, and format data which includes commands and other information for causing the content data to be visually represented in a particular manner. The function calls generally are provided by the operating systems in order to permit applications such as report generating applications 12 to print data to a printer. In system 10, the data generated by these applications are received by database manager 18 and stored in database 20. To increase ease and efficiency of organizing and searching through the reports stored in database 20, each report is stored in association with one or more tags. Tags are fields of data which can store data in association with the reports. As taught in the '019 application, a user may input the data in the tags.
In system 10, tags may also be generated based on operations performed on the reports in accordance with a template. A template is a collection of one or more extraction instructions for extracting data from a report. An extraction instruction is one or more commands or criteria for selecting and extracting content data (with or without associated format data) from a data file storing data representing a visual form of the data. A template may be applied to a selected batch of reports to generate tags for each one of the reports in the batch to be stored in association with each one of those records. In one embodiment, templates specifically store instructions for retrieving the data based on the visual aspects of the generated reports. Such visual aspects may include the location of the data within the report or within a selected portion of the report. The instructions may also, for example, indicate the general direction of a desired data compared to a selected reference marker in the report.
To allow a user to create or edit a template, project manager module 16 provides the user with various graphical user interfaces to input the extraction instructions. In one embodiment, project manager module 16 allows the user to select a sample or base report based on which the user may generate a template. The selected report is displayed to the user. The user may input the extraction instructions by visually indicating to the computer the location where a desired data should appear in a report. The user also may visually specify a location of a reference marker and a general direction in which a desired data should appear in a report relative to the marker. Because reports are multi-dimensional, in that data within them is not only displayed in two dimension but also in various orientations or in more than one page, then the extraction instructions may be applied in one, or more dimensions of the visual form of data.
The generated templates then can be applied by project manager module 16, or any other application program having the capability of applying templates, to a batch of reports stored in database 20 or, in realtime, as the reports are being outputted by report generating applications 12 to database manager 18.
As is apparent from the above description, system 10 can be used to integrate various component systems of large enterprises. For example, in a pharmaceutical enterprise, each one of computers 12 can be research and development computers operating within a single laboratory or multiple laboratories spread across various locations of an enterprise. By printing to a common database, database manager 18 can centrally store the reports to retrieve the information from within those reports and provide them for further processing to other application programs such as user application program 24.
Each one of computers 12A, 16A, 18A, and 24A can include a main unit connected to both an output device which displays information to a user and an input device which receives input from a user. The main unit generally includes a processor connected to a memory system via an interconnection mechanism. The input device and output device also are connected to the processor and memory system via the interconnection mechanism.
One or more output devices may be connected to the computers. Example output devices include a cathode ray tube (CRT) display, liquid crystal displays (LCD) and other video output devices, printers, communication devices such as a modem, storage devices such as a disk or tape, and audio output. One or more input devices may be connected to the computer system. Example input devices include a keyboard, keypad, track ball, mouse, pen and tablet, communication device, and data input devices such as audio and video capture devices. The invention is not limited to the particular input or output devices used in combination with the computer system or to those described herein.
Each one of the computers may be a general purpose computer system which is programmable using a computer programming language, such as C++, Java, or other language, such as a scripting language or assembly language. The computer system may also include specially programmed, special purpose hardware, or an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). In a general purpose computer system, the processor is typically a commercially available processor, of which the series x86, Celeron, and Pentium processors, available from Intel, and similar devices from AMD and Cyrix, the 680X0 series microprocessors available from Motorola, the PowerPC microprocessor from IBM, the Alpha-series processors from Digital Equipment Corporation, and the MIPS microprocessor from MIPS Technologies are examples. Many other processors are available. Such a microprocessor executes a program called an operating system, of which windows family of operating systems including Windows NT, and Windows 95 or 98, Linux, UNIX, IRIX, DOS, VMS MAC OS and OS8 are examples, which controls the execution of other computer programs and provides scheduling, debugging, input/output control, accounting, compilation, storage assignment, data management and memory management, and communication control and related services. The processor and operating system define a computer platform for which application programs in high-level programming languages are written.
A memory system typically includes a computer-readable recording medium, the recording medium includes a magnetic disk, a flash memory CD-ROM (rewriteable). The magnetic disk may be removable, known as a floppy disk, or permanent, known as a hard drive. A magnetic disk has a number of tracks in which signals are stored, typically in binary form, i.e., a form interpreted as a sequence of one and zeros. Such signals may define an application program to be executed by the microprocessor, or information stored on the disk to be processed by the application program. Typically, in operation, the processor causes data to be read from the recording medium into an integrated circuit memory element, which is typically a volatile, random access memory such as a dynamic random access memory (DRAM) or static memory (SRAM). The integrated circuit memory element allows for faster access to the information by the processor than does the disk. The processor generally manipulates the data within the integrated circuit memory and then copies the data to the disk after processing is completed. A variety of mechanisms are known for managing data movement between the disk and the integrated circuit memory element, and the invention is not limited thereto. The invention is not limited to a particular memory system.
Various computer platforms, processors, or high-level programming languages can be used for implementation. Additionally, the computer system may be a multiprocessor computer system or may include multiple computers connected over a computer network. Each computer program modules (e.g. 12, 16, 18 and 24) in
Such a system may be implemented in software or hardware or firmware, or any combination thereof. The various elements of the system, either individually or in combination may be implemented as a computer program product tangibly embodied in a machine-readable storage device for execution by a computer processor. Various steps of the process may be performed by a computer processor executing a program tangibly embodied on a computer-readable medium to perform functions by operating on input and generating output. Computer programming languages suitable for implementing such a system include procedural programming languages, object-oriented programming languages, and combinations of the two.
The claims are not limited to a particular computer platform, particular processor, or particular high-level programming language. Additionally, the computer system may be a multiprocessor computer system or may include multiple computers connected over a computer network. Various possible configurations of computers in a network permit many users to participate in an auction, even if they are dispersed geographically.
Using the Windows95, Windows98 and WindowsNT operating systems, the data files or reports from report generating applications 12 representing the visual form of the data output by the operating system in response to function calls from an application to print the data is in a Windows Metafile format, according to Microsoft. A metafile is a vector image, or, a list of commands, draw objects, text, and commands to control style. Theoretically, a metafile may be used in any Windows application. A Windows metafile (WMF) is a 16-bit metafile that is supported by Windows 3.1. An enhanced metafile (EMF) is a 32-bit enhanced metafile that is supported by Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT having a super set of WMF commands.
The operation of printing in the Windows operating systems and its use to capture the visual form of data from an application into a database will now be described. In order to print on a printer in a Windows environment, the printer has an associated print driver. When the printer is installed, the operating system is informed of the location of the print driver, i.e., its file name. The print driver specifies the characteristics of the printer to the operating system.
An application 12 (as in
The GDI-32 outputs data into spool files and makes function calls with the names of the spool files to the spooler process to queue the spool files for printing on their designated printers. A spool file in the Windows operating system is designated as a Windows metafile by Microsoft. A printer spool file is not a true metafile, however, because it actually contains printer setup data in addition to any referenced or embedded metafiles. In Windows95, a spool file contains the file names of any metafiles. In WindowsNT, the metafiles are embedded in the spool file. In both cases, there is one spool file per printed document, and each page of a document has a separate metafile.
The spooler process is informed about the location of a print processor associated with the selected print driver. The spooler process calls the print processor to process any spool files that the spooler process has queued for the print processor. Generally, a typical print processor receives the spool file from the spooler process 96 and converts it to a format used by the printer, such a printer control language (PCL), PostScript or other, typically proprietary, format. Instead of printing, the print processor causes the vector image data produced by the operating system to be formatted, associated with tags, and stored in a database.
More details about metafiles, print drivers, print processors, spooler processes and spool files are available through the Microsoft Developer Network and the Microsoft Development Network Library accessible through the Internet.
Database 20 and database manager 18 may be any kind of database, including a relational database, object-oriented database, unstructured database or other database. Example relational databases include Oracle 8i from Oracle Corporation of Redwood City, Calif., Informix Dynamic Server from Informix Software, Inc. of Menlo Park, Calif., DB2 from International Business Machines of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and Access from Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash. An example object-oriented database is ObjectStore from Object Design of Burlington, Mass. An example unstructured database is Notes from the Lotus Corporation, of Cambridge, Mass. A database also may be constructed using a flat file system, for example by using files with character-delimited fields, such as in early versions of dBASE, now known as Visual dBASE from Inprise Corp. of Scotts Valley, Calif., formerly Borland International Corp.
As stated above, each report generating application 12 can generate a batch of visual forms of data files 44 (that is, reports) to be stored in database 20. Reports 44 may be sent to the template runner module 32 or database manager 18. If sent to template runner module 32, template runner module 32 retrieves template 38 from database 20 through database manager 18 and applies template 38 to the batch of reports. Template runner module 32 can also retrieve a batch of reports stored in database 20 and apply template 38 to the retrieved batch of reports. By applying the template, template runner module 32 generates tags based on data content of the visual forms of data and causes them to be stored in database 20 in association with the reports (an example of the data structure of such a database is shown in
The structure and operation of template builder module 30 and template runner module 32 will now be described in detail. Referring to
In the described embodiment, the user may input one or more extraction instructions selected among at least four types of extraction instructions. A first type of extraction instruction allows finding data in a particular area in the report and inserting the data into a selected tag in association with that report. To do so, a user can select a rectangle 304 by using a mouse and pointer combination and right clicking on the mouse to select the appropriate option from a displayed menu (not shown). Template builder module 30 then causes computer 16A to display a tag within a GUI 400 (shown in
Another type of extraction instruction allows finding data located in a direction relative to a selected reference point in the report and inserting the data into a selected tag in association with the report. A user can select a rectangle 308 by using a mouse and pointer combination and right clicking on the mouse to select the appropriate option from a displayed menu (not shown). Template builder module 30 then causes computer 16A to display a tag next to marker GUI 700 (shown in
Another type of extraction instruction allows determining whether a particular word or phrase appears in a report and setting a Boolean tag in association with the report. To do so, a user can select a rectangle 308 by using a mouse and pointer combination and right clicking on the mouse to select the appropriate option from a displayed menu (not shown). Template builder module 30 then causes computer 16A to display a tag next to marker GUI 800 (shown in
Another type of extraction instruction allows inserting data into a selected tag in association with the report based on a value derived from data in the report. To do so, a user can right click on the mouse to select the appropriate option from a displayed menu (not shown). Template builder module 30 then causes computer 16A to display a tag from derived value GUI 900 (shown in
Using these GUIs, the user can input the extraction instructions for a template to be used in processing a batch of reports. It should be noted that the same GUIs can be used for editing a template. After completing creating or editing a template, instruction application engine 54 outputs template 38.
Yet another record 70 in template edit component 40 stores an audit trail which is record of all the changes and edits made to the template. This record allows heightened security for ensuring data integrity which is important for regulatory purpose as, for example, in pharmaceutical industry for gaining FDA approvals.
Referring back to
The manner in which the data file stores data also does not always support efficient and accurate searching or size and coordinate conversion. For example, we have observed that application programs 12 commonly generate within a single report strings with differing fonts, sizes, and coordinates. Text which one would expect to be included in one text string also may be split between two strings. For example, a single word may be split and placed into different text strings. A user selecting a rectangle on the computer screen, as discussed in reference to
Hence, to support proper creation, editing, and application of templates, the reports are first normalized. The first step in normalizing the report is to ensure that all of the coordinate systems in the report use the coordinate systems used by the display system. In that case, performing matches between the text selected on the screen by the user and the text in the visual form of data can readily be done. To do so, normalization engine 58 scans the report and translates all of the coordinate references to those used by the display.
The second step preformed by the normalization engine 58 is to ensure that the size of the text string are scaled to correspond to the display size on the display device. Some operating systems, such as the Windows brand operating systems may not provide accurate information and/or accurate techniques for performing such scaling. Hence, for such operating systems, the scaling is optimized to correspond to the scale of the display string of the display device.
The third step performed by normalization engine 58 involves joining and splitting text strings so that each text string will contain a logical unit of text. For example, normalization engine 58 ensures that all words which have been split will be contained within single strings. In addition, normalization engine 58 ensures that words separated by more than three spaces are separated from each other. Leading and/or trailing spaces also are placed in their own individual text strings. Other instructions may be used to decide on whether to split or join text.
After performing these steps, normalization engine 58 generates a normalized report 60 which includes the base or sample report and a list of all normalized strings and their associated normalized size and location in the visual form of data. This allows a quick application of extraction instructions 52 by instruction application engine 54.
As each extraction instruction 52 is input by the user, instruction application engine 54 compares the various coordinate and location information of the instruction to the coordinate and location information associated with the strings in the list of normalized report 60 to find those text strings which are in the vicinity of coordinate information associated with the extraction instruction 52. After finding those text strings, instruction application engine 54 finds those text strings which satisfy the conditions of the instruction. instruction application engine applies a flexible standard in fulfilling the condition, because the manner in which the coordinates are specified by the user on the screen typically include some error. Matching the coordinates of the visual form of data after normalization to the coordinates on the screen also includes a degree of error. Hence, requiring only, for example, a 90% or 95% match, ensures that user extraction instructions are applied properly.
For example, template 38 can not only include extraction instructions for extracting data from the report, but can also include information input by the user to be input into tags in accordance with methods and techniques described in the '019 application.
Template runner module 32 can run as an independent application program which does not support creating and editing templates, but supports manipulating projects and applying templates to batches of reports. Hence, templates can generated at a central location at an enterprise and applied by various users (for example, user 26 in
Having now described a few embodiments, it should be apparent to those skilled in the art that the foregoing is merely illustrative and not limiting, having been presented by way of example only. Numerous modifications and other embodiments are within the scope of one of ordinary skill in the art and are contemplated as falling within the scope of the claims.
Other embodiments are also within the scope of the following claims.
For example, components of system 10 may operate on a single computer. Or, project manager module 16 and database manager 18 may operate on the same computer. Additionally, template runner module 32 may operate on the same computer with either project manager module 16 or database manager 18, or both. Network 14 can of course be an intranet (such as a local area network, a wide area network, or various combinations thereof), or the Internet, or combinations thereof.
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|U.S. Classification||1/1, 707/E17.026, 715/221, 707/999.003, 707/999.102, 707/999.104|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10S707/99943, Y10S707/99933, Y10S707/99945, Y10S707/918, G06F17/30265|
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